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Asimov's Future History Volume 5

Isaac Asimov

  Asimov’s Future History

  Volume V

  All stories copyright Isaac Asimov and the Estate of Isaac Asimov, unless otherwise noted below.

  All other stories copyright by the respective authors listed below.

  The Robots of Dawn – First published in October, 1983

  Odyssey - by Michael P. Kube-McDowell. First published as Isaac Asimov's Robot City Book 1: Odyssey, July, 1987

  Suspicion - by Mike McQuay. First published as Isaac Asimov's Robot City Book 2: Suspicion, September, 198

  Cyborg - by William F. Wu. First published as Isaac Asimov's Robot City, Book 3: Cyborg, November, 1987

  This ePub edition v1.0 by Dead^Man March, 2011

  Layout and design by DeadMan

  Cover art “City” by Noa-h of DeviantArt

  Future History inlay “Summer days” by Talros of DeviantArt

  Cover design by Dead^Man

  Chronology of events in Isaac Asimov’s positronic robot and Foundation stories, compiled by Johnny Pez.

  Table of Contents


  3424 AD The Robots of Dawn

  11: Gremionis

  12: Again Gremionis

  13: Amadiro

  14: Again Amadiro

  15: Again Daneel and Giskard

  16: Again Gladia

  17: The Chairman

  18: Again the Chairman

  19: Again Baley

  3604 AD Odyssey

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  3604 AD Suspicion

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  3604 AD Cyborg

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Sources of dates

  The Robots of Dawn

  3424 A.D.

  11: Gremionis


  THEY WERE SITTING in the airfoil again – all three in the front, with Baley once more in the middle and feeling the pressure on either side. Baley was grateful to them for the care they unfailingly gave him, even though they were only machines, helpless to disobey instructions.

  And then he thought: Why dismiss them with a word – “machines”? They’re good machines in a Universe of sometimes – evil people. I have no right to favor the machines vs. people sub – categorization over the good vs. evil one. And Daneel, at least, I cannot think of as a machine.

  Giskard said, “I must ask again, sir. Do you feel well?”

  Baley nodded. “Quite well, Giskard. I am glad to be out here with you two.”

  The sky was, for the most part, white – off – white, actually. There was a gentle wind and it had felt distinctly cool until they got into the car.

  Daneel said, “Partner Elijah, I was listening carefully to the conversation between yourself and Dr. Vasilia. I do not wish to comment unfavorably on what Dr. Vasilia has said, but I must tell you that, in my observation, Dr. Fastolfe is a kind and courteous human being. He has never, to my knowledge, been deliberately cruel, nor has he, as nearly as I can judge, sacrificed a human being’s essential welfare to the needs of his curiosity.”

  Baley looked at Daneel’s face, which gave the impression, somehow, of intent sincerity. He said, “Could you say anything against Dr. Fastolfe, even if he were, in fact, cruel and thoughtless?”

  “I could remain silent.”

  “But would you?”

  “If, by telling a lie, I were to harm a truthful Dr. Vasilia by casting unjustified doubt on her truthfulness, and if, by remaining silent, I would harm Dr. Fastolfe by lending further color to the true accusations against him, and if the two harms were, to my mind, roughly equal in intensity, then it would be necessary for me to remain silent. Harm through an active deed outweighs, in general, harm through passivity – all things being reasonably equal.”

  Baley said, “Then, even though the First Law states: ‘A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm,’ the two halves of the law are not equal? A fault of commission, you say, is greater than one of omission?”

  “The words of the law are merely an approximate description of the constant variations in positronomotive force along the robotic brain paths, Partner Elijah. I do not know enough to describe the matter mathematically, but I know what my tendencies are.”

  “And they are always to choose not doing over doing, if the harm is roughly equal in both directions?”

  “In general. And always to choose truth over nontruth, if the harm is roughly equal in both directions. In general, that is.”

  “And, in this case, since you speak to refute Dr. Vasilia and thus do her harm, you can only do so because the First Law is mitigated sufficiently by the fact that you are telling the truth?”

  “That is so, Partner Elijah.”

  “Yet the fact is, you would say what you have said, even though it were a lie – provided Dr. Fastolfe had instructed you, with sufficient intensity, to tell that lie when necessary and to refuse to admit that you had been so instructed.”

  There was a pause and then Daneel said, “That is so, Partner Elijah.”

  “It is a complicated mess, Daneel – but you still believe that Dr. Fastolfe did not murder Jander Panell?”

  “My experience with him is that he is truthful, Partner Elijah, and that he would not do harm to friend Jander.”

  “And yet Dr. Fastolfe has himself described a powerful motive for his having committed the deed, while Dr. Vasilia has described a completely different motive, one that is just as powerful and is even more disgraceful than the first.” Baley brooded a bit. “If the public were made aware of either motive, belief in Dr. Fastolfe’s guilt would be universal.”

  Baley turned suddenly to Giskard. “How about you, Giskard? You have known Dr. Fastolfe longer than Daneel has. Do you agree that Dr. Fastolfe could not have committed the deed and could not have destroyed Jander, on the basis of your understanding of Dr. Fastolfe’s character?”

  “I do, sir.”

  Baley regarded the robot uncertainly. He was less advanced than Daneel. How far could he be trusted as a corroborating witness? Might he not be impelled to follow Daneel in whatever direction Daneel chose to take?

  He said, “You knew Dr. Vasilia, too, did you not?”

  “I knew her very well,” said Giskard.

  “And liked her, I gather?”

  “She was in my charge for many years and the task did not in any way trouble me.”

  “Even though she fiddled with your programming?”

  “She was very skillful.”

  “Would she lie about her father – about Dr. Fastolfe, that is?”

  Giskard hesitated. �
��No, sir. She would not.”

  “Then you are saying that what she says is the truth.”

  “Not quite, sir. What I am saying is that she herself believes she is telling the truth.”

  “But why should she believe such evil things about her father to be true if, in actual fact, he is as kind a person as Daneel has just told me he was?”

  Giskard said slowly, “She has been embittered by various events in her youth, events for which she considers Dr. Fastolfe to have been responsible and for which he may indeed have been unwittingly responsible – to an extent. It seems to me it was not his intention that the events in question should have the consequences they did. However, human beings are not governed by the straightforward laws of robotics. It is therefore difficult to judge the complexities of their motivations under most conditions.”

  “True enough,” muttered Baley.

  Giskard said, “Do you think the task of demonstrating Dr. Fastolfe’s innocence to be hopeless?”

  Baley’s eyebrows moved toward each other in a frown. “It may be. As it happens, I see no way out – and if Dr. Vasilia talks, as she has threatened to do –”

  “But you ordered her not to talk. You explained that it would be dangerous to herself if she did.”

  Baley shook his head. “I was bluffing. I didn’t know what else to say.”

  “Do you intend to give up, then?”

  And Baley said forcefully, “No! If it were merely Fastolfe, I might. After all, what physical harm would come to him? Roboticide is not even a crime, apparently, merely a civil offense. At worst, he will lose political influence and, perhaps, find himself unable to continue with his scientific labors for a time. I would be sorry to see that happen, but if there’s nothing more I can do, then there’s nothing more I can do.

  “And if it were just myself, I might give up, too. Failure would damage my reputation, but who can build a brick house without bricks? I would go back to Earth a bit tarnished, I would lead a miserable and unclassified life, but that is the chance that faces every Earthman and woman. Better men than I have had to face that as unjustly.

  “However, it is a matter of Earth. If I fail, then along with the grievous loss to Dr. Fastolfe and to myself, there would be an end for any hope Earthpeople might have to move out of Earth and into the Galaxy generally. For that reason, I must not fail and I must keep on somehow, as long as I am not physically thrust off this world.”

  Having ended in what was almost a whisper, he suddenly looked up and said in a peevish tone, “Why are we sitting here parked, Giskard? Are you running the motor for your own amusement?”

  “With respect, sir,” said Giskard, “you have not told me where to take you.”

  “True! – I beg your pardon, Giskard. First, take me to the nearest of the Community Personals that Dr. Vasilia made mention of. You two may be immune to such things, but I have a bladder that needs emptying. After that, find someplace nearby where I can get something to eat. I have a stomach that needs filling. And after that –”

  “Yes, Partner Elijah?” asked Daneel.

  “To tell you the truth, Daneel, I don’t know. However, after I tend to these purely physical needs, I will think of something.”

  And how Baley wished he could believe that.


  THE AIRFOIL DID not skim the ground for long. It came to a halt, swaying a bit, and Baley felt the usual odd tightening of his stomach. That small unsteadiness told him he was in a vehicle and it drove away the temporary feeling of being safe within walls and between robots. Through the glass ahead and on either side (and backward, if he craned his neck) was the whiteness of sky and the greenness of foliage, all amounting to Outside – that is, to nothing. He swallowed uneasily.

  They had stopped at a small structure.

  Baley said, “Is this the Community Personal?”

  Daneel said, “It is the nearest of a number on the Institute grounds, Partner Elijah.”

  “You found it quickly. Are these structures also included in the map that has been pumped into your memory?”

  “That is the case, Partner Elijah.”

  “Is this one in use now?”

  “It may be, Partner Elijah, but three or four may use it simultaneously.”

  “Is there room for me?”

  “Very likely, Partner Elijah.”

  ‘Well, then, let me out. I’ll go there and see –”

  The robots did not move. Giskard said, “Sir, we may not enter with you.”

  “Yes, I am aware of that, Giskard.”

  “We will not be able to guard you properly, sir.”

  Baley frowned. The lesser robot would naturally have the more rigid mind and Baley suddenly recognized the danger that he would simply not be allowed out of their sight and, therefore, not allowed to enter the Personal. He put a note of urgency into his voice and turned his attention to Daneel, who might be expected to more nearly understand human needs. “I can’t help that, Giskard. – Daneel, I have no choice in the matter. Let me out of the car.”

  Giskard looked at Baley without moving and, for one horrid moment, Baley thought the robot would suggest that he unburden himself in the nearby field – in the open, like an animal.

  The moment passed. Daneel said, “I think we must allow Partner Elijah to have his way in this respect.”

  Whereupon Giskard said to Baley, “If you can wait for a short while, sir, I will approach the structure first.”

  Baley grimaced. Giskard walked slowly toward the building and then, deliberately, circumnavigated it. Baley might have predicted the fact that, once Giskard disappeared, his own sense of urgency would increase.

  He tried to distract his own nerve endings by staring around at the prospect. After some study, he became aware of thin wires in the air, here and there – fine, dark hairs against the white sky. He did not see them, to begin with. What he saw first was an oval object sliding along beneath the clouds. He became aware of it as a vehicle and realized that it was not floating but was suspended from a long horizontal wire. He followed that long wire with his eyes, forward and back, noting others of the sort. He then saw another vehicle farther off – and yet another still farther off. The farthest of the three was a featureless speck whose nature he understood only because he had seen the nearer ones.

  Undoubtedly, these were cable – cars for internal transportation from one part of the Robotics Institute to another.

  How spread out it all was, thought Baley. How needlessly the Institute consumed space.

  And yet, in doing so, it did not consume the surface. The structures were sufficiently widely spaced so that the greenery seemed untouched and the plant and animal life continued (Baley imagined) as they might in emptiness.

  Solaria, Baley remembered, had been empty. No doubt all the Spacer worlds were empty, since Aurora, the most populous, was so empty, even here in the most built – up region of the planet. For that matter, even Earth – outside the Cities – was empty.

  But there were the Cities and Baley felt a sharp pang of homesickness, which he had to push to one side.

  Daneel said, “Ah, friend Giskard has completed his examination.”

  Giskard was back and Baley said tartly, “Well? Will you be so kind as to grant me permission –” He stopped. Why expend sarcasm on the impenetrable hide of a robot?

  Giskard said, “It seems quite certain that the Personal is unoccupied.”

  “Good! Then get out of my way.” Baley flung open the door of the airfoil and stepped out onto the gravel of a narrow path. He strode rapidly, with Daneel following.

  When he reached the door of the structure, Daneel wordlessly indicated the contact that would open it. Daneel did not venture to touch the contact himself. Presumably, thought Baley, to have done so without specific instructions would have indicated an intention to enter – and even the intention was not permitted.

  Baley pushed the contact and entered, leaving the two robots behind.

  It was not until he w
as inside that it occurred to him that Giskard could not possibly have entered the Personal to see that it was unoccupied, that the robot must have been judging the matter from external appearance – a dubious proceeding at best.

  And Baley realized, with some discomfort, that, for the first time, he was isolated and separated from all protectors – and that the protectors on the other side of the door couldn’t easily enter if he were suddenly in trouble. What, then, if he were, at this moment, not alone? What if some enemy had been alerted by Vasilia, who knew he would be in search of a Personal, and what if that enemy was in hiding right now in the structure?